Employment Situation Holding Steady


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) this morning released its monthly report on the employment situation for August.  The good news is that the employment situation seems to be holding steady.  The bad news is that it’s holding steady at very nearly the worst level of the recession reached in October of 2009.  There’s not been one iota of improvement, in spite of spending under the economic stimulus plan reaching a crescendo in the 2nd quarter of this year. 

Here’s the calculation:

Unemployment Calculation

As you can see, the employment level rose for the first time in five months.  But so too did the size of the labor force – either a coincidence or a controlled reintroduction of workers that the government has been steadily removing, with the explanation that some people had decided to drop out of the labor force.  The net result is that the government’s calculation of unemployment actually ticked back up by a tenth of a percent, while my own calculation, which holds the labor force at a fixed percentage of the population, ticked down by that much.  For anyone with an understanding of the concept of “statistical significance,” the real take-away here is that employment conditions aren’t improving one bit.  What’s worrisome is that the stimulus spending will soon be winding down. 

Here are the graphical presentations of the data presented in the spreadsheet above:

Unemployment Chart          Labor Force & Employment Level          Unemployed Americans

The change in employment reported by the BLS breaks down as follows:

  • health care:  + 28,000 jobs
  • construction:  + 19,000 (including 10,000 returning from strike)
  • professional & business services (temp help):  + 17,000
  • mining:  + 8,000
  • retail:  + 2,000
  • manufacturing:  – 27,000
  • government employment:  – 121,000 jobs (including 114,000 census workers)

Until now, manufacturing has been one of the bright spots so far this year, but much of the growth in manufacturing employment was in rebuilding depleted inventories, a process that’s basically complete.  The drop in manufacturing employment in August isn’t a good sign. 

This is a picture of an economy that has stagnated at a low level of economic activity and a high level of unemployment.  No surprise, given that the administration has done nothing to address the underlying problem with our economy – the trade deficit – which, if anything, seems to be accelerating.

7 Responses to Employment Situation Holding Steady

  1. MikeF says:

    In order for unemployment to reach 6% by 2013 (using government unemployment numbers)our economy would have to add 300,000 jobs each and every month without fail.

    Doing so has become physically impossible.Therefore, high unemployment is with us to stay. Importing some 1.6 million foreigners to this nation on an annual basis is absolutely ludicrous.

    Speaking of physically impossible, growth of the magnitude that would generate tax collection at levels necessary to significantly lower the National Debt is long past the point of impossible. Yet, we continue to mount debt measured in TRILLIONS. The financial system will collapse yet again in the not so distant future.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      Growth of the magnitude required to generate sufficient revenue to make a dent in the debt is impossible. But generating sufficient revenue through import tariffs isn’t. The only problem is finding someone with the stones to do it.

  2. Mark Hall says:

    How many W.T.O. Unfair Trade Rules has the U.S. broken to accomplish this feat?


    France = 70.8 Billion Euros
    Germany = 105.7 Billion Euros
    United Kingdom = 194.2 Billion Euros

    *Source: U.S. Census Bureau and Eurostat.

    They keep talking and talking about stimulus.

    At this very moment our president STILL HAS a domestic “stimulus card” that he HAS NOT played.

    When will he “play” a card to resolve this?

    “Domestic Job Creation” with “Domestic Inflation”

    A Possible Two-For-One solution.

    In Chinese domestic trade terms it’s called “indigenous innovation” or “Pay To Play”.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      And that’s just since 2000. Our cumulative trade deficit since the last surplus in 1975 is now approaching 10 trillion dollars! And people wonder why we have a sick economy.

  3. Peteopolis says:

    >Importing some 1.6 million foreigners to this nation
    >on an annual basis is absolutely ludicrous.

    What is the raw material in the debt creation process? People. Now lets suppose you have a problem finding credit worthy people. What do you do then? You invent securitization and turn the legal system upside down with problems pertaining to ownership and identity. Then you eliminate lending standards altogether for certain groups of “disadvantaged people” and include some fine print about the loan being nondischargable. What is the economy? Saddling fools with debt. So importing foreigners is hardly ludicrous. You just can’t take the contemporary economics texts seriously with their references to production because they certainly don’t

    • Pete Murphy says:

      Randy, I actually agree with you. That’s a pretty good description of how our economy is being run. The illusion of stable prosperity is sustained with ever-rising debt, and new debtors (immigrants) are imported to keep the pyramid scheme going. To Mike’s point, he’s right too. The whole situation is ludicrous.

  4. MikeF says:


    I wrote the book “The Biggest Lie Ever Believed” during the white hot economy of 2006. I included in detail the process that you described above and the eventual downfall that would occur…and so it has.

    Not to become a parrot, but to continue to add an annual foreign population to this nation that is equal in size to the population of Chicago, while maintaining current living standards, requires vast untapped resources and a frontier to settle. We have neither.

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